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Old August 11, 2005, 09:41 PM   #1
rangermonroe
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lee scale problems

I noticed that my Lee scale is "hanging" at the indicator point.

As it swings by, it hesitates, and then continues on.

With the same weight, it will stop just above the "point"...or sometimes just below.

I didn't do this before, so I am concerned.

I have weighed some "known" quantities. The thing doesn't seem broken, but at the same time doesn't seem to be working the way it should.


Am I being anal?

Is this worrying about 1/100 of a grain, or 1 grain.

Time for a digital powder measure?

Really though, I don't have the $ for a new one, Nor do I have the cash for an ER visit.
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Old August 11, 2005, 09:58 PM   #2
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This does happen sometimes, due to the magnet in the base. This acts on the steel piece attached to the end of the beam, to slow it's swinging and stabilize it on centre (when the weight is as set). What is happening is that the beam has been disturbed on it's pivot (probably by bumping or slamming it around when the pan is removed or replaced). So, the beam is disturbed...and the steel pc. is now too close to the magnet...which causes the swing of the beam to be impaired.

This is not really a big deal. What I always do, when it happens, is to gently push on the beam, to cause it to swing and to re-seat itself properly on the pivot. Then, the beam stabilizes and all is OK. This used to bother me, when it happened - just like you. At first, I always emptied the pan and re-zeroed the scale. Eventually, I figured out that, if the scale was properly zeroed in the first place (before starting use)...it wasn't necessary to re-zero it when this happens. That is, as long as the beam hasn't been slammed about unduly. Now, when I use my Lee scale, I am as gentle as possible when adding a charge to the pan, removing the pan and replacing it. So, this problem seldom happens to me, anymore.

One more thing. If, after the scale hangs up...and you free the beam, the indicator stops at other than the balance point (as long as the small weight slider hasn't moved) - then the scale has gotten out of zero. You must then re-zero it, before continuing. It really isn't a big problem, but does require being gentle. Any undue slamming about of the beam can cause the zero to wander.

I know how you feel. This, as well as the relative difficulty in reading the (tenths of a grain) range...are the most common complaints about the Lee scale. Try not to worry too much about it. It's not that big a deal.
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Old August 11, 2005, 10:01 PM   #3
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Peculiar!

Never heard of a scale that did exactly what you describe. I'd contact Lee's customer service people. They have treated me VERY well the few times I've needed it.

No, no, no, you don't want to go to a digital! Stay away from the dark side! You would be paying gobs more $$ and giving up accuracy. Not a good deal.

With a digital, you go from, say, 25.4 grains, directly to 25.5 grains. You have no idea if you have 25.36 grains, 25.40 grains, or 25.45 grains. Then at 25.46 grains, the digital goes to 25.5 grains, and stays there all the way through 25.55 grains. So the digital is limited to "about a tenth of a grain" accuracy. With a balance beam you can see these differences, and compensate accordingly.

If you're being truly accurate in your charge weighing, this matters, especially with very small pistol charges, where a small error is a significant percentage of the entire charge.

Edit: Just got to read Olaf's post. If he's right, you have a very simple, easy-to-correct problem. And he has the solution.
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Last edited by Smokey Joe; August 11, 2005 at 10:03 PM. Reason: The usual--had another thought.
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Old August 11, 2005, 10:03 PM   #4
rwilson452
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lee scale "hanging"

The scale has magnetic dampening. it should slow slightly at the zero point. another thing to watch for is to insure nothing is touching on the indicator end of the beam. If it is push it at the pivot point until it is free.
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Old August 11, 2005, 10:06 PM   #5
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Dampening, eww!

RWilson--Technically you're correct, but the word is "damping." To damp something is to slow down or counteract its vibration, as is here the case.

Dampening is very bad for scales and other precision instruments; leads to rust and corrosion!
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Old August 11, 2005, 10:14 PM   #6
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Check the contact points. A hair or a speck of dust can do that and cleaning will fix it. More seriously, the scale could be chipped. Be nice if you could check it against another scale or a check weight, but I'd settle for checking it against a volumetric powder charge. The Lee dippers generally throw a couple of tenths light so I would not be concerned about a slightly low reading, but I would worry a lot about a high reading. I'd weigh the same charge at least a dozen times checking repeatability. Plus or minus a tenth is to be expected, but more than that is too much.
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Old August 11, 2005, 10:27 PM   #7
rangermonroe
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Dammit....


Thanks for the gang of responses.

My worry is that it hangs a little below the "spot" and then with the same weight, an little above the "spot"

My belief is that I have realized the breadth of the magnetic field....is that the "swath "on my indicator point?

If I am wrong, please correct me.
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Old August 11, 2005, 11:28 PM   #8
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If it's doing as you describe...hanging up below the balance point....then above...with EXACTLY the same weight in the pan.....and ALL else being equal....then you have a perplexing problem,indeed. I would check for any signs of damage. I would also check for any foreign substance (dirt, etc.) at the balance "blade" and at the magnetic damper. Are you certain that nothing is being moved (I mean the "tenths" slider)..or that the beam is not being banged around excessively ? Do you mean that it hangs up, while the beam is swinging....with the same charge in the pan ? (It swings up, hangs up...then swings down, hangs up.....like that ?) If THAT is what it's doing, the problem MUST be with the magnetic damper. This has no moving parts to get out of adjustment - so I would check for damage. As well, as I mentioned before, the beam on the balance point can get a bit "out of kilter" (though not all by itself) and cause the steel pc. and the magnet to be too close together. This is what it sounds like to me - except that, somehow, it is (perhaps) doing this on two separate phases of the swing. In any case, the blade on the end of the beam should be in the middle of the slot (in the base), between the magnets. If not, then the pivot (balance point) is causing the problem....or the beam is somehow bent (and I don't see how). Or, perhaps, the steel "blade" at the end of the beam has moved on it's attachment point, thus changing it's orientation to the beam.

That's as far as my thinking takes me. It's a very simple device. It simply HAS to be one of the causes described above.

One more thing that I just thought of....as I'm sitting here playing with my Lee scale, trying to duplicate your problem. This scale is VERY sensitive to being out of level....and to vibration. Are you sure that you have the scale set up on a level surface ?....and a heavy, sturdy surface that is not moving around AT ALL ? This sort of thing could affect the scale in weird ways. Also, if you've moved the location of the scale...in conjunction with the things mentioned just above..that could have an effect.
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Old August 12, 2005, 07:02 AM   #9
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Ok I admit it....I dropped it.

Yes olaf it is as you described it. It does not swing smoothly

but whatever it is, I am going to chuck this scale.

I have no confidence in its accuracy. I dropped a staple in the pan with a bullet I am weighing, and the needle didn't indicate any weight gain.

I guess something is wrong with the magnetic dampeners, but for the life of me I cant tell what
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Old August 12, 2005, 10:23 AM   #10
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Eek, don't chuck it!

Instead contact Lee's customer service dept! Their website is www.Leeprecision.com

They may be able to correct the problem for you, and cost you less than the price of a new scale. Anyhow, it's worth a try!

Dropping scales and other precision instruments is even harder on them than dampening them!
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Old August 12, 2005, 12:38 PM   #11
Mike Irwin
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The day a couple hundredths of a grain makes a difference in any load, other than balls against the wall loads, is the day the earth stops on its axis, throws into reverse, and we end up back in the 15th century mixing our own gonne poudre and debating which makes the better projectile, stone balls or lead balls.

It's been shown many times that loads thrown volumetrically can produce ammo that is as accurate as those that are loaded where every charge is weighed individually to a tenth of a grain.

There's a national match shooter who does very well (name escapes me right now) who loads all of his ammo on Dillon presses and doesn't bother to weigh every charge.


As to the original poster, the knives on the scale beam could be dirty, causing it to hang up.

But, I have to ask, which model Lee scale is it?


EDIT:

Wait, you DROPPED IT?

Absolutely do NOT use it for loading!

I'm betting that the problem is NOT with the magnetic dampers, but that you've bent something, either the knives or the beam, or you've knocked one of the agate bearings out of alignment.
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Old August 12, 2005, 01:10 PM   #12
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Yup, something got bent/broken/out of alignment when you dropped it. The scale may or may not be worth trying to salvage. (I'd love to take an eyeball look at it.)

As to the damping question, that isn't an iron or steel plate that rides between the magnets. I can't imagine what that would do for accuracy! (Actually, I can and it isn't good.) The plate must be non-ferrous to be an effective damping system, usually a copper or lead alloy is used. As the arm (and therefore the plate) slows down as it reaches equilibrium, the magnetic damping effect (eddy currents in the plate) falls to practically zero.


[And on the definition of dampening vs damping: Dampening is an acceptable word to match the definition of reducing the amplitude of oscillations. To dampen does mean, primarily, to moisten or wet as with water. Secondarily, it means to reduce vibrations.]
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Old August 12, 2005, 01:37 PM   #13
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You're all dampening behind the ears, Mr. Mal.
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Old August 12, 2005, 01:53 PM   #14
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You're thinking of Prince Charles ... he has had a device implanted behind his ears to ....

Oh nevermind!

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Old August 12, 2005, 02:32 PM   #15
RERICK
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So you dropped it huh

I dropped mine the second day I got it LOL.It wouldn't zero out.I just sent it back to Ohaus and they fixed it no charge.Thank god it was still in the box.
I think most of us do it sooner or later.
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Old August 12, 2005, 02:35 PM   #16
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I've dropped a lot of stuff, including a box of 500 lead bullets (on my foot ), but I've never dropped my scale.
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Old August 12, 2005, 03:24 PM   #17
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Yeah, i knocked it off the bench...but there is no outward sign of damage. The paint isn't even chipped.

The Knife doesn't look bent and the beam is made from plastic.

How much does a staple weigh...just a normal paper staple.

I weighed a few sierra 63gr bullets and then added a paper stapel to the pan, but it didn't behave the way it did before.

If the thing is off 1/100 i couldn't care less, as I am loading hunting loads.

But I shiver to think it may be inconsistent to the tune of a grain or so.

As I have no way to confirm it's accuracy, I feel the most prudent thing to do would be to err on the side of caution.
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Old August 12, 2005, 03:39 PM   #18
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The only way to know for sure is get a full set of calibrated scale weights.
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Old August 12, 2005, 04:17 PM   #19
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A paper staple weighs 0.5 grains. YSWMV.

'sbroke.
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Old August 12, 2005, 05:11 PM   #20
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I talked to LEE and they suggested sending it back to them for replacement or recalibration.

I told them that I am responsible for it's demise and did not expect it to be repaced for free as though it wore out or broke on it's own.

"no problem, we'll repace it at half price."

Not bad service on a $25 scale.

How much does a staple weigh?
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Old August 12, 2005, 07:27 PM   #21
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Accuracy

Mike Irwin--Y'know, I get sniped at about over-accurizing every time I bring up the subject of balance beam scales being inherently more accurate than a digital.

My point was NOT that you have to weigh every powder charges to 0.01 grains. That would be overdoing it. My point was and is that you can tell with greater accuracy what weight you have when you weigh something, a powder charge for example. So that when you want, say, a 36.5 grain powder charge, for calibrating a powder measure, you know that you have close to exactly 36.50 grains of powder, not 36.46, nor yet 36.54 grains.

Then the next time you set up your equipment to do the same load you can more easily duplicate the ammo you built last time.

Consistency = accuracy. A digital can vary almost a whole 1/10 of a grain without your knowing it.

I keep hearing about this unnamed national champion who never weighs their powder charges. Isn't it interesting that he (or she) is the exception to the rule!
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Old August 12, 2005, 08:19 PM   #22
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Smokey,

I never said national champion. You may want to read what I write.

If you want, you can go back several years and read the article from the guy in the Blue Press. He was, IIRC, a Dillon employee. Not surprising that he'd use Dillon products, but his match scores aren't something that Dillon created just for the publication.

Through my stint with American Rifleman magazine I've know more than my fair share of national match shooters who don't weigh every charge. They use high-end loading equipment (Belding and Mull powder throwers kept coming up) and very precise, repeatable procedures to produce their ammo.
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Old August 12, 2005, 09:26 PM   #23
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Brian Enos is probably the name Mike is looking for. He's hardly an exception, either. I would not know where to find a top level pistol shooter who scales each charge.

The common reloader's balance beam scales have their own inaccuracies. Few of them have a sensitivity under a tenth of a grain or can be read as closely as a tenth of a grain. Plus or minus a tenth is about as close are you are gonna get, no matter what you think you are getting.
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Old August 12, 2005, 09:39 PM   #24
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My bad

Mike Irwin--Ok, national match shooter, not national champion. Sorry.

And sure, if you use one of the really high-end, well-calibrated (and expensive) powder measures, you can easily get by w/o weighing charges. (Though you'd still have to weigh them--really accurately--when calibrating the scale!)

Somehow I don't think that's the level of reloader we're talking, here. I for one can't even afford to look in a Sinclair catalogue. Were I competing at the national level I'd have an entire set of high-level, high price equipment. Were Rangermonroe competing at that level, so would he. He wouldn't be bothering with Lee equipment, and a suspect scale would simply get tossed with no questions asked.

I don't want to turn this into some form of argument, or get personal. I maintain that balance scales are more accurate than digitals. Same with dial calipers and digital calipers, for the same reason. I believe your point is that that level of accuracy is immaterial. If so, I guess that's where we have to agree to disagree.

OK? No hard feelings?
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